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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hagel: Plan in 30 Days for DoD-VA Records Sharing

Hagel: Plan in 30 Days for DoD-VA Records Sharing
Apr 17, 2013
Stars and Stripes
by Chris Carroll and Leo Shane III

WASHINGTON -- Faced with tough questions from legislators, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday said he would decide on a plan within 30 days to work through the tangled process to seamlessly share medical records between the Department of Defense and the VA.

At a hearing with members of the House Appropriations Committee, Hagel admitted the process has bogged down, and promised quick action.

“I’m going to acknowledge that we’re way behind,” said Hagel, who took over as defense secretary in February, and previously served as an official at the VA in the 1980s. “We will do better.”

In recent weeks, the collaboration between the Pentagon and VA on lifelong electronic medical records has become a sore spot for lawmakers and veterans advocates, who have accused officials of abandoning their goal of seamless records sharing by 2017.

In a letter to Hagel sent Tuesday, members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs urged him to speed the transfer of servicemembers’ records to VA, and institute electronic transfer capabilities by Dec. 31.

“Veterans’ disability benefits claims must be adjudicated in a timely and accurate manner and veterans must receive the benefits to which they are entitled,” committee members wrote, noting that veterans wait an average of more 250 days for decision on a disability benefits claim.
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